I took the opportunity of a gentle, sunny autumn afternoon to visit Danni before winter sets in.
Away from the busy and often chaotic pace of daily life, it's funny how a cemetery can be one of the most peaceful places a person can spend time.. It's always very still and therefore internally stilling - a time of reflection and gathering of one's thoughts.
I always start when walking up the path by saying hello. I sit on Danni's log seat and talk to her about everything, and I mean everything.... all the highs and the lows - business, exercise and fitness, family drama, other people drama! - There is no argument in this place, no one butting in and mostly the only reflection coming back to me is me. Can she feel the joy in the announcement of her sisters engagement?
It was at this point I realised something had changed - moved on. On this day there were no tears, just a huge surge of hope and possibility for the future. I found myself thanking her. Thanking her for all that she had given back to me; the courage to stand strongly in my own patch of diamonds, the strength to just be me, the sass to fight and the tenderness to love my own choices.
Up until this point, there are usually tears; tears for what is lost, tears for what will never be, tears of missing her, tears related to the trauma of her illness accompanied by a tugging sensation in my chest. Up until this moment, I could barely look at a picture of Danni without crying.
But this day was different. A long one way conversation - Silence - and then the words coming to me from Danni
Mum - it's time!
Mum - It's time now to tell the story
Grief is a process, an enigmatic process - as specific and unique to the bereaved person as the fingerprints on your hand. It's' a swirling cauldron of emotion, bubbling up and cooling down with the passage of time. As hard as it can seem, greif is precious. It enables us to sort and sift memory and experience to unearth truth and deeper meaning.
This post ends now with a poem written almost a year ago to the day, while sitting on Danni's log. It feels possible now to tell the story - Danni's story, the story of illness, suffering, courage and love - she would want me to, maybe it might help.
You are beneath my feet
"Sun's rays dispersed through Manuka trees shine gently on my back ,
warming and releasing tension on skin and bone –
I’m sitting on the log we placed in the earth above where you lie – beneath my feet
you are in the ground.
The breeze is gentle, like soft fingers in my hair making the grasses and ferns shiver.
The Kowhai and Rimu planted not long take firm hold of the earth, sending newly forming branches laced with delicate leaves racing into the last open spaces of autumns sun.
Eyes travel across the way into a small, lush, green ravine, the pungas sway and wind rushes throughout the tops of larger trees like rapidly flowing water.
Acres of green, crisscrossed with blacktop - the stillness imomentarily broken – car tires crunching on open seal.
Sleeping bones lay undisturbed by sound and in the distant forgotten part of the cemetery, decades old headstones worn by weather and times passing, crumble under wildflower and headstrong bull grass.
You lie beneath my feet, but you are not here – you are in my cells and soul, in the heart muscle straining in my chest to understand.
Your face, laughter and scent fill the air of my memories, salty water escapes, a river of tears down my cheeks.
In this place of gentle rest, of peace and serenity I search for solace.
The Tui rasps and clucks, the grasshoppers sing an unseen harmony, fantails swoop in and out.
In this place of last earth’s stop, life noisily, clumsily, delicately continues
and thrums above you.
-You are not beneath my feet.
You are the echo of my love; loud, soft, haunting and continuously rebounding across the plains of my life.
Danni is not here - she is everywhere … joined to a million things.
Written on the afternoon of April 8th 2018